Mike Morgan, Creator of For Heaven's Sake

30 November 2001

    There could be no one with better qualifications to draw cartoon fans to the funny side of religion and church than a minister. He would have an insider's take on the characters in the congregation and a learned perspective to avoid unpleasant controversy. Perhaps he could even have guidance from a higher source. Mike Morgan, creator of For Heaven's Sake is just that man.

   Michael Thomas Morgan was an advertising artist and editorial cartoonist when he felt the call to become an ordained minister. His initial education earned him an Associate of Fine Arts Degree from Young Harris College in 1977. He continued on to reach a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in 1979 from the University of Georgia in Athens. The University campus newspaper, the Red and Black, published his first cartoons while he was an attending student.

   The Atlanta Journal and Constitution hired Mike to work in their advertising department, designing ads for the newspapers. He began freelance editorial cartooning and found publication for his comics in The Rockdale Citizen. In 1980, somewhere in the flurry of his creativity, Mike Morgan wed Karen Carter of Waycross, Georgia.

   The Macon Telegraph of Macon, Georgia, took Mike on as editorial cartoonist and newsroom artist in February of 1981, and he joined the membership of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. A selection of his cartoons were reprinted in Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year, 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1985 editions. His work also appeared in several national publications. He was on his way to being a well-established editorial cartoonist, but plans change.

   Mike Morgan felt drawn to the ministry and so, in 1986, he left his job with the Macon Telegraph to walk on the path of becoming a minister with the United Methodist Church. He enrolled at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Mike enhanced his faith studies with work as a part-time youth minister at the Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church on campus. He was inducted into the Phi Theta International Honor Society, on recognition of his academic excellence.

    On May 15, 1989, Morgan graduated with a Master of Divinity Degree, magna cum laude ("with high honours"). He was ordained a Deacon on June 12 of the same year and received appointment as associate pastor to the Mulberry Street United Methodist Church in Macon. He earned ordination as an Elder on June 10, 1991.

    Still an artist and cartoonist at heart, Mike created For Heaven's Sake in September of 1991. The cartoon uses a fictitious Protestant church called The Mainline Memorial Church as its setting. Its merriment is found in the characters of a church and religious setting, with no malice or intention of denigrating God or other religious groups.

    In an interview with Charles Austin of The Record (April 23, 2001), Mike Morgan said, "You have to be careful about quoting Scripture, and it must not seem that you are belittling God and any way."

    The Wesleyan Christian Advocate and The Macon Telegraph were the first to publish Morgan's cartoon. For Heaven's Sake has now found a home with Creator's syndicate. The weekly strip is building acceptance, and can be enjoyed in approximately 20 newspapers and religious publications.

    Ebenezer United Methodist Church in Macon became Mike Morgan's pastoral appointment in June 1992. Four years later, he was appointed pastor to the First United Methodist Church of Hazlehurst and Philadelphia United Methodist Church. Also in 1996, he was elected chairman of the South Georgia Conference committee on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns.

    The cartooning pastor has also served as editor of the weekly newspaper, the Wesleyan Christian Advocate on an appointment begun in 1998. He appeared in Chicago as a workshop leader for the Religious Communication Conference in 2000, sharing tales of his experiences as minister and cartoonist. The Morgan family has two children, sons Thomas, born in 1984 and Daniel, born in 1989.

    For Heaven's Sake is an entertaining comic strip of universal humour centering on characters, rather than controversial faith issues. The cartoon could easily be published in mainstream newspapers and enjoyed by comics readers everywhere. Let's hope it will be soon.

Check the latest For Heaven's Sake cartoon each Monday at:
http://www.creators.com/comics/for-heavens-sake.html?comicname=hev

The Joyful Noiseletter - order cartoons with a religious flavour:
http://www.joyfulnoiseletter.com/cartoons.asp
© Susanna McLeod 2001
TheCartoonists.ca  
(Originally published in The Cartoonists on suite101.com.)